choosing_a_mouthwash_or_rinse_thats_right_for_you_lgIt is a little-known fact that one can treat respiratory infections quite effectively without drugs, primarily with the use of physical therapies and correctly applied remedies. Here are three methods:

1. Therapeutic Gargling (TG). Many respiratory viral and bacterial infections commence with a sore throat or a small infection in the inside lining of the mouth–for instance, inside the cheek. In these cases, the invading microbe appears to establish a beachhead in the throat or mouth lining where it can safely multiply before the immune system can develop a response sufficient to wipe it out. Once the numbers of microbes reach a high enough level, they can break out and spread the infection throughout the respiratory tract or even system-wide.

Often a respiratory infection first announces its presence with a sore throat.  At the moment when an individual first becomes aware of having a sore throat or infection in the lining of the mouth, the invading microbes are most vulnerable because they tend to be concentrated in one place–a small tract in the throat or mouth. So it is possible to use Therapeutic Gargling to destroy them.

After becoming aware of a soreness in the throat or mouth that is reminiscent of the soreness that heralded past infections, one should first make sure that one actually has a sore throat and is not just imagining it. Then, using a mouthwash such as salt water, green tea, or Listerine or a generic equivalent, one should gargle for 20 seconds. Repeat in 15 minutes, then every half hour for several hours, then at greater intervals. Gargling at least 10 times the first 24 hours and at least 5 times the second 24 hours gives the best assurance of full destruction of the microbes, though if one starts at the very early stage less gargling suffices.

TG is only fully effective if used within the first few hours after a sore throat is noticed. However, even if this intensive kind of gargling is initiated only after the virus has started to spread from the throat, it may be able to reduce the severity and length of the respiratory disorder and keep it from spreading to the bronchi and lungs. In effect, untreated virus in the throat otherwise serves as reservoir fueling the spread of the disorder throughout the entire respiratory tract.

Therapeutic Gargling has only been tested informally in a few cases, so it clearly needs plenty of well designed clinical trials to validate and to work out an optimal protocol. But the results in individual cases are dramatic and easily explained:  salt, green tea catechins, and ethanol are powerful microbicides that overwhelm the infecting microorganisms’ defenses.

TG is most useful for those with weakened immunity who are subject to frequent respiratory infections. It may not be necessary for people whose immunity is robust enough to fend off infections on its own. A critical question deserving of careful investigation: what percentage and kinds of respiratory infections start in the throat? Another: in which categories of individuals?

If TG were faithfully practiced by all vulnerable people worldwide, it could significantly or perhaps even dramatically reduce the incidence of respiratory infections and the resulting morbidity and mortality. It could also save many billions of dollars in medical costs.

It is also possible to use Prophylactic Gargling (PG), i.e., to gargle once or twice a day to prevent respiratory infections.  The best results are obtained by using both PG and TG, as appropriate.  However, an ethanol-based gargle should not be used for PG because of the danger of oral cancer with long-term use.

2. Halotherapy (aerosol salt) has been shown to be a very effective antimicrobial. Its mechanisms of action are rather well-characterized, though more detail would help better to elucidate the antimicrobial workings of the aerosol salt microparticles. The use of halotherapy as an adjuvant in the treatment of respiratory diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis is likely to increase the chances of success, shorten the duration of therapy, and reduce side effects. So clinical testing of halotherapy in all respiratory infections, including the common cold, deserves high priority.  For a full discussion of halotherapy, see Halotherapy:  Aerosol Salt Treatment of Respiratory Diseases.

3. Biophotonic Therapy (BT) is the leading phototherapeutic treatment of infectious diseases. BT has a sterling track record of effectiveness in the treatment of respiratory infections, including pneumonia. It has also been shown to be effective when used as an adjuvant therapy of tuberculosis. BT reduced the length of standard drug therapy, cut down on side effects, and led to better outcomes in a Russian study of the treatment of teenagers with TB (E.S. Ovsyankina, V.A. Firsova, V.G. Dobkin, and L.I. Rusakova, “Treatment of Acute and Progressive Forms of Tuberculosis in Teenagers with the Use of Intravenous Laser Irradiation,” Problemy tuberkuleza 2000, 14-17 [Russian]).

For further information, see Close-to-Nature Medicine, Healing Photons, and Intriguing Anomalies (especially the chapter on the use of Biophotonic Therapy and Electroaerosol Therapy in respiratory diseases).

It is likely that certain other physical therapies are also effective in treating respiratory infections; and it is possible that other kinds of non-drug therapy are likewise effective. Many physicians assume that only antibiotic and antiviral drugs can treat respiratory infections, but they are unaware of these treatments.

It is the duty of every medical practitioner who becomes aware of the antimicrobial properties of these therapies to learn to use them, to seek to test them as needed, to educate patients, and to use these excellent therapies to treat respiratory diseases.

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Kenneth J. Dillon is an historian who writes on science, medicine, and history.  See the biosketch at About Us.

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